Water Jet Cutting

OMAX Maxiem 1530

A water jet cutting machine, also known as a “water jet cutter” or simply a “water jet”/”waterjet”, is a powerful and versatile cutting tool. Water jet cutting uses a constant, high-pressure stream of water mixed with a granular abrasive substance to cut very narrow lines through metal or other materials, such as glass or rubber.

The Water Jet Cutting Process

Every water jet cutting machine uses the same basic cutting media: high-pressure water that is focused into a tight, narrow beam by a nozzle. Modern water jet cutters use a crankshaft driven pump to pressurize the water before sending it through the nozzle. These mechanical pumps operate with minimal friction loss for efficiency as high as 90%, which in turn allows more power to delivered to the cutting nozzle for enhanced cutting power and faster cutting. A measured, finely powdered abrasive (usually garnet or aluminum oxide) is added to the water at the nozzle, creating a powerful, high-speed cutting slurry that can cut through harder and denser materials, such as metals or granite.

Modern water jet cutting systems use CNC-operated, multi-axis cutting heads. This technology allows for highly complex part shapes and angled cuts and automatically minimizes taper on vertical cuts for greater precision.

The water-and-abrasive slurry is collected in a water-filled catcher tank, which absorbs and dissipates the energy behind the pressurized stream of water. Some water jet cutters include filtration systems to separate the abrasive from the water and recycle both.

“Pure Water Jet Cutting”

The term “pure water jet cutting” (or “water-only cutting”) is used to refer specifically to water jet cutting without the use of abrasives. Pure water jet is often preferred for softer materials like wood and foam.

Advantages of Water Jet Cutting

  • Can machine a broad range of materials and thicknesses
  • CNC programming for very fast cutting speeds (up to 500” per minute) and exceptional precision (±0.003”/±0.076mm or better)
  • Water jet cutting does not create heat-affected zones or mechanical stresses in the material
  • Uses no tooling and only minimal fixturing for increased productivity and reduced cost
  • Water jet cutting produces a smooth edge on machined parts, reducing the need for secondary finishing operations
  • The environmentally-friendly process uses only water and natural garnet abrasive as cutting media
  • Large work envelope for machining larger parts (X-Y axis:10’ × 5’2”/3,048mm × 1,575mm; Z axis: 12”/305mm; work table 12’2” × 5’8”/3,708mm × 1,727mm)
  • Near perfect repeatability within ±0.001”/±0.025mm or better

Material Versatility

Waterjet cutting can be used to machine a broad range of materials. The abrasive and/or its concentration in the water jet stream can easily be modified, making it possible to process everything from foam rubber to titanium with equal quality and precision. Materials that can be cut with a water jet include:

  • Metals and alloys
  • Ceramics
  • Composite materials
  • Concrete
  • Foam
  • Food
  • Glass
  • Leather
  • Rubber
  • Paper
  • Plastics, including carbon-fiber reinforced resins
  • Stone
  • Textiles
  • Tile
  • and more

Contact Us for Precision Water Jet Cutting Services

Tempco is the only source you need for high precision metal parts. We offer water jet cutting, metal stamping, fabrication, and more, to give you parts that match your exact specifications. Request a quote on water jet cutting for your project, or contact us for more information.